CONCORD, N.C. — Race report and photos by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Audio by Jacob Seelman and Race Chaser Online Correspondent James Pike —
Round Seven of the 2015 Winter Heat Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway saw several spectacular finishes and one champion crowned early during double features for the Legend Car divisions and the penultimate races for the Bandolero classes.
Dawson Cram shocked the Young Lions field by holding off Chase Purdy and a determined Alex Reece for his first career Legends Car victory at Charlotte, while Matthew Thomas claimed the second Young Lions race and carries a nine point lead over Purdy into the finale.
The win for Cram was his first-ever in a Legends Car at Charlotte, and came after a myriad of bad breaks through the rest of the Winter Heat.
“This means a lot; it was really hard to hold (Reece) off there at the end — he almost had a run on me a couple of times — but my uncle (Ron Hornaday) was in my ear telling me where he was and what to do,” Cram said in Victory Lane. “My crew gave me a great car and it feels really good to finally get this win.”
Dillon Faggart used a spectacular inside charge to go from third to the win in the final 500 feet of the second Legends Semi-Pro division feature of the afternoon. The Steven Ross Motorsports driver took advantage of title rival Christian Eckes’ loss of momentum from a bump-and-run attempt to go three-wide down low and sneak out the victory, his fifth of the season, by 0.081 seconds.
“I knew going into turn three it was going to be wild,” Faggart said in Victory Lane. “I just stayed on Christian’s bumper and gave him a little tap, and he gave the 91 (Stevie Johns) a big tap, and I was just able to scoot right on in there and grab the win. Sometimes you just gotta keep digging and that’s what we did today.”
Eckes hung on for second in a dead heat with Johns, who was disqualified in post-race technical inspection. Eckes dominated the first Semi-Pro feature of the afternoon, rolling easily to his second win of the winter after Faggart had to come from the rear following a crash with John Holleman.
With today’s results, Faggart takes a nine-point lead over Eckes into Sunday’s finale.
Jared Irvan made a triumphant return to Legends Car racing with his last ditch run to the bottom on the final lap of Pro feature No. 2 Saturday, sneaking past Kyle Beattie Racing driver Trey Jarrell to claim his first victory at Charlotte in over a year.
“I just found another groove,” Irvan said. “I was struggling over in turns three and four but the last ten laps I was able to catch back up to him and I just had to give him a little boot there at the end.”
“It means a lot though, we’re just out here to have a little fun. We certainly didn’t come out here expecting to win, but you can’t beat that.”
Joey Padgett, who won the first Pro feature, rounded out the podium in race two and carries a 17 point edge over three-time winner Michael Torres into Sunday’s final race. Torres battled ignition issues in the first race and recorded a DNF for the first time this winter.
Setup guru Chris Rogers returned to Legends Car racing for the first time in four years on Saturday and held off a charging Rodney Tharp for his first win of the Winter Heat. Rogers was driving an 860 Motorsports entry and has been racing go-karts since beginning his hiatus from the USLCI circles.
He says though, that despite his success today — he’s not planning a comeback.
“No comeback, we’re just out here to have fun — and that was fun today,” Rogers laughed.
In Bandolero action, Daniel Wilk locked up the Bandits division title with his seventh win in seven races this winter, creeping up late and storming to the inside of Ryan Israel to keep his perfect streak alive and take home the big trophy.
“The car got really tight there in the middle of the run but i just had to be patient behind Ryan and wait for the opportunity,” Wilk said. “We made contact but I had the lan on him and I just didn’t back out of the throttle. He came down into me and that was that.”
“It means a lot to get the title today, but we’ve got one more tomorrow and I want that perfect record.”
Eddie Fatscher claimed his fifth Outlaws trophy of the season after surviving a huge crash on the opening lap that involved the entire field and saw Matthew Davey flip over in turn two. Davey was uninjured in the crash and faces a 12 point deficit heading into the final race.
Gracie Trotter won the Beginner Bandits main, her second of the season.
The 2015 Winter Heat Series concludes Sunday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway with championship features for all Legend Car and Bandolero classes, with racing beginning at noon Eastern time.
RESULTS: 2015 Winter Heat Series; Round 6-7; Charlotte Motor Speedway; Feb. 7, 2015
Legend Car Pro Division Round Six Feature (20 laps): 1) Joey Padgett; 2) Jared Irvan; 3) Reid Wilson; 4) Trey Jarrell; 5) Henri Tuomaala; 6) Spencer Saunders; 7) Brandon Gdovic; 8) Drew Brown; 9) Michael Torres.
Audio with race winner Joey Padgett:
Audio with 3rd-place Reid Wilson:
Legend Car Pro Division Round Seven Feature (20 laps): 1) Jared Irvan; 2) Trey Jarrell; 3) Joey Padgett; 4) Michael Torres; 5) Reid Wilson; 6) Henri Tuomaala; 7) Drew Brown; 8) Spencer Saunders; 9) Brandon Gdovic.
Audio with race winner Jared Irvan:
Audio with runner-up Trey Jarrell:
Legend Car Masters Round Six Feature (20 laps): 1) Scott Whitaker; 2) Rodney Tharp; 3) Bruce Silver; 4) Tom Sherman; 5) Jim Sylvester; 6) Robby Faggart; 7) Chris Rogers; 8) Dwayne Holder; 9) Danny Cisson; 10) TJ Larson; 11) Craig Bruce; 12) Chris Byerly; 13) Jeramy Lowe; 14) Jeff Lefcourt; 15) Ron Mander.
Audio with race winner Scott Whitaker:
Legend Car Masters Round Seven Feature (20 laps): 1) Chris Rogers; 2) Rodney Tharp; 3) Robby Faggart; 4) Bruce Silver; 5) Jim Sylvester; 6) Scott Whitaker; 7) TJ Larson; 8) Danny Cisson; 9) Jeff Lefcourt; 10) Tom Sherman; 11) Dwayne Holder; 12) Craig Bruce.
Audio with race winner Chris Rogers:
Legend Car Semi Pro Round Six Feature (20 laps): 1) Christian Eckes; 2) Stevie Johns; 3) Alex Murray; 4) Dillon Faggart; 5) Blake Spears; 6) Erik Nash; 7) John Holleman; 8) Joseph Bisson; 9) Corey Hall; 10) Chase Campbell; 11) Alex Urbina; 12) Holden German; 13) Breanne Gilligan; 14) Nick Lands; 15) Mathew Moermond; 16) Corey Gordon.
Audio with race winner Christian Eckes:
Audio with runner-up Stevie Johns:
Legend Car Semi Pro Round Seven Feature (20 laps): 1) Dillon Faggart; 2) Christian Eckes; 3) Blake Spears; 4) Alex Murray; 5) Corey Hall; 6) Alex Urbina; 7) Chase Campbell; 8) Erik Nash; 9) Joseph Bisson; 10) Holden German; 11) Matthew Moermond; 12) Breanne Gilligan; 13) Nick Lands; 14) John Holleman; 15) Stevie Johns (DQ).
Audio with race winner Dillon Faggart:
Audio with runner-up Christian Eckes:
Legend Car Young Lions Round Six Feature (20 laps): 1) Dawson Cram; 2) Chase Purdy; 3) Ryan Millington; 4) Zack Wells; 5) Matthew Thomas; 6) Eddie Fatscher; 7) Alex McCollum; 8) Anthony Alfredo; 9) Andrew Molleur; 10) Sprout Royal; 11) Scott Joy; 12) Jack Fread; 13) Kouga Miyoshi; 14) Alex Reece; 15) Austin Green; 16) Carson Poindexter; 17) Jonnie Varga; 18) Gilliam Kirkpatrick.
Audio with race winner Dawson Cram:
Audio with runner-up Chase Purdy:
Audio with 3rd-place Austin Green:
Legend Car Young Lions Round Seven Feature (20 laps): 1) Matthew Thomas; 2) Alex Reece; 3) Ryan Millington; 4) Dawson Cram; 5) Austin Green; 6) Scott Joy; 7) Chase Purdy; 8) Zack Wells; 9) Alex McCollum; 10) Andrew Molleur; 11) Anthony Alfredo; 12) Sprout Royal; 13) Eddie Fatscher; 14) Jack Fread; 15) Jonnie Varga; 16) Kouga Miyoshi; 17) Carson Poindexter.
Audio with race winner Matt Thomas:
Bandolero Beginner Bandits Round Seven Feature (20 laps): 1) Gracie Trotter; 2) Justin Oplinger; 3) Joshua Speas; 4) Christopher Oplinger; 5) Luke Akers; 6) Jackson Moore; 7) Tyler Bartoszewicz; 8) Zach Miracle; 9) David Sullivan; 10) Stanley Hayes; 11) Reyna Jaiden.
Audio with race winner Gracie Trotter:
Bandolero Bandits Round Seven Feature (20 laps): 1) Daniel Wilk; 2) Cameron Bolin; 3) Carson Kvapil; 4) Mini Tyrell; 5) Bryson Ruff; 6) William Robusto; 7) Tommy Good; 8) Ryan Israel; 9) Dylan Notaro; 10) Parker Retzaff; 11) Austin MacDonald; 12) Jason Alder; 13) George Hayes.
Audio with race winner Daniel Wilk:
Bandolero Outlaws Round Seven Feature (20 laps): 1) Eddie Fatscher; 2) Trevor Rizzo; 3) Ashley Pantoulas; 4) Blazes Brinkley; 5) Matthew Davey; 6) Roy Hayes; 7) Kayla Lyons (DQ).
Audio with race winner Eddie Fatscher:
Audio post-race with Matt Davey: